Alabama Lawmakers Aim to Cut Racist Rhetoric From State Constitution

In Summary

Alabama’s recently established Committee on the Recompilation of the Constitution is spearheading efforts to remove all racist rhetoric from the Constitution.

Alabama lawmakers want to remove racist language from the state’s 120-year-old Constitution, per al.com’s Mike Cason.  

The current legislation, signed in 1901, has clauses that prohibit Black and white students from attending the same schools and imposes poll taxes, among other racial provisions.  

Established in November 2020 to lead efforts, the Committee on the Recompilation of the Constitution is now hard at work to figure out the best method to get rid of any residual Jim Crow legislation.

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The recompilation committee is calling on the director of the Legislative Services Agency to create a rewritten constitution that removes all racist rhetoric, along with clauses that are redundant or have been abolished, per Cason. It also asks that provisions for economic development be rolled into one package and all local amendments be organized according to the county in which they were filed.

“It sends a message out about who we are,” said committee chairwoman Rep. Merika Coleman. “It is important for us to let folks know we are a 21st century Alabama, that we’re not the same Alabama of 1901 that didn’t want Black and white folks to get married, that didn’t think that Black and white children should go to school together.” 

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If approved, the adjustments will be submitted to a public vote in 2022. 

The committee will reconvene on October 13 to vote on whether to repeal the constitution’s authorization of involuntary servitude as a criminal punishment, a provision that resulted in generations of Black men being convicted of minor offenses in the 20th century and forced into hard labor, per the Associated Press.

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